Enjoy your extra hour of sleep this week, because most Americans switch to Daylight Savings Time Monday and will have to get up one hour earlier. However, sleep loss is a year-round problem that affects everything from your health to your wallet.
Economic Impact Of Sleep Loss
A Rand Corporation analysis found that the United States economy loses 2.28 percent of GDP each year due to sleep deprivation. That amounts to about $411 billion based on 1.2 million working days lost each year.
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that absenteeism from insomnia costs employers an average of $976 per year per employee.
Added Healthcare Costs Of Sleep Loss
Sleep loss disorders add $94.9 billion to healthcare costs in the United States, according to a study by Mass Eye and Ear, a Bingham General Hospital.
People suffering from sleep loss make twice as many doctor visits and receive twice as many prescriptions as those without sleeping problems, the study reports.
Study author Neil Bhattacharyya, MD, FACS, who is also a professor at Harvard Medical School, thinks the costs are even higher than his study showed. He notes that many patients suffering chronic sleep loss are probably not yet diagnosed.
“If we as a country continue this pattern,” said Bhattacharyya when the study was released in 2021, “this huge burden to the healthcare system will grow and affect patient care for everyone.”
Get Your Seven Hours
Benjamin Franklin knew the importance of sleep on well-being and finances when he wrote, “early to be and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Accordingly, he lived his mantra keeping to a strict schedule of sleeping from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Franklin was on to something, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which recommends at least seven hours of sleep for adults 18 to 60 years of age.
The health risks from sleep loss include heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, and other mental distress.
Sleep Loss From Insomnia
New research revealed last week showed that people who suffer from insomnia are 69 percent more likely to have a heart attack. The report was presented at a joint meeting of the American College of Cardiology and World Congress of Cardiology.
If you get less than five hours of sleep, your risk of heart attack is greater, according to the study. In addition, women are more likely than men to suffer heart attacks.
“Not surprisingly, people with insomnia who also had high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes had an even higher risk of having a heart attack than those who didn’t,” said Yomna E. Dean, author of the study. “People with diabetes who also have insomnia had a twofold likelihood of having a heart attack.”
Benefits Of Good Sleep
On the other side of the ledger, good sleep provides health benefits.
Last week another study related to sleep demonstrated that people who get sufficient sleep are better able to stay with exercise and diet goals. The study was presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association.
According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Resources, the benefits of getting good sleep on a regular basis include:
- Fewer illnesses
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases
- Lower stress and better mood
- Clearer thinking and better decision making
- Improved relations with other people
Preventing sleep loss takes a plan, according to the CDC. It provides some tips.
- Do what Franklin did. Go to bed and get up at the same time.
- Make your bedroom dark, quiet, relaxing, and comfortable.
- Remove electronic devices, such as televisions, computers, and smartphones from your bedroom.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
If all that is too dry for you, take inspiration from Shakespeare. He wrote a lot about sleep. For example:
“The deep of night is crept upon our talk,
And Nature must obey necessity.” – from the play Julius Caesar